Goodell, NFL Need To Get Tougher With Discipline

Created on May. 13, 2014 4:55 AM EST

A story that’s quietly gone under the radar is San Diego Chargers linebacker Thomas Keiser pleading guilty to a misdemeanor battery charge that stems from his arrest after an altercation with an employee from a downtown bar last December.

Unconfirmed media reports have stated that Keiser became agitated when a bartender from the Barleymash refused to serve his father, who appeared to be intoxicated. Keiser later returned to confront the bartender after the bar’s manager asked both Keiser men to leave the premises immediately. Testimony and video footage from security cameras showed Keiser ambushed the bartender after he emerged from a back office.

And for his actions, Keiser’s penalty was only three years’ probation, a $655 fine, a lifetime ban from the Barleymash and 20 hours of counseling to address his anger-management issues.

The most disheartening part of this story is that the Chargers and the NFL chose to neither suspend nor remove Keiser from the active roster following the incident. As a matter of fact, he played a key role in the Bolts’ lone playoff win last January. This is a travesty, as the league needs to suspend players until their legal cases have been decided.

Once again, no leadership has been shown by Roger Goodell, who has been grossly inconsistent with handing out suspensions. He banished current Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones for a season following repeated run-ins with the law and suspended quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for four games after the Pittsburgh Steelers QB was accused of sexual misconduct with a female inside a men’s bathroom. Yet, there has been no word from the NFL commissioner on Keiser after he brutally attacked another person five months ago. 

The NFL must recognize its current punishment policy is weak, as a player can get arrested on a Tuesday night and still be eligible to play on Sunday. The commissioner’s office and the players association must come together and take a stance to eliminate this reckless behavior.

Millions of fans watch football each week, and the NFL can make an impact with them by handing down severe penalties to players who get arrested for socially unacceptable acts. Unfortunately, the players association has long resisted adding language to the current penalties that stem from the league’s conduct policy.

Keiser’s situation is unfortunate, but the Chargers need to explain why he hasn’t been given his walking papers already. We cannot hear the same rhetoric from management, such as this was an isolated incident or that the front office is always striving to build a roster of quality players on and off the field. Yes, I understand each team will have a few bad apples, but franchises must refrain from giving individuals with a checkered past repeated chances to get their lives in order.

Personal responsibility has been thrown to the wind, and it's time for the NFL to hand out tougher suspensions to players who get arrested. These strict guidelines will hurt some well-respected players within their own community, but they must confront their own personal demons first before continuing their careers.

All parties must come to an agreement that these actions have no place in professional sports.

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